Question about unit at Lubeck, 1945. 2nd Fife and Forfar Yeomanry

Discussion in 'RAC & RTR' started by David Layne, Jun 3, 2007.

  1. David Layne

    David Layne Well-Known Member

    Attached is a page from Barry Davidson's P.O.W. War Time Log. Davidson was a Canadian and is making mention of the liberation of P.O.W.'s at Lubeck on May 2nd. 1945.

    I would like to refer you to the text in the upper left and ask if anyone has information re "Fife & Forth" on this day and Captain Taylor of the Chesire Regiment.

    With thanks. D.

    Attached Files:

  2. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    Seems likely to be the Fife & Forfar:
    The Charge of Lubeck
    ‘We crossed the autobahn and turned towards Lubeck, we only had 45 minutes left before the main bridges were due to be taken by our troops and we were 20 to 30 miles to go – we accelerated up to a speed of 50-50 mph – it was a fantastic sight with some 200 vehicles made up of half tracks all speeding to Lubeck which we reached about mid afternoon. Everybody appeared to be going about their everyday business when we entered it!! Lubeck itself reminded me much of Pembroke Place as it used to be in Liverpool with the Royal Infirmary on the left, after passing this we came across a railway bridge and looking down saw a train load of POW’s just about to leave so orders were given by the tank commander to blast the engine’s boiler which we did and all the POW’s came off and the first person I saw was a Pilot Officer who used to live in Archway Road, Huyton!!’

    From: BBC - WW2 People's War - Miscellaneous Memories: Royal Armoured Corp
    Dunno if that helps.

    'Lubeck' as a search on IWM Photos turns up some good shots of liberated POW's boarding lancasters for repatriation there:

  3. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    I only have info that I've already posted on your other thread.
    At least this confirms it was 11th Armd Div that liberated them.
    2 Fife & Forfars and 1 Cheshires were operating together as a Battlegroup from end of April.

    Divisional History says this.

    Attached Files:

    • aa.jpg
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  4. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    Taken the day before.
    <TABLE class=tblResultsbgColor cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="100%" border=0><TBODY><TR vAlign=top align=left><TD>BU 4946 </TD><TD>[​IMG]</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
    A Comet tank of 2nd Fife and Forfar Yeomanry carrying infantry of the 1st Cheshire Regiment, 1 May 1945.

    <TABLE class=tblResultsbgColor cellSpacing=0 cellPadding=0 width="100%" border=0><TBODY><TR vAlign=top align=left><TD>BU 4949 </TD><TD>[​IMG]</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
    Comet tanks of 2nd Fife and Forfar Yeomanry carrying infantry of the 1st Cheshire Regiment, 1 May 1945
  5. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

    David,I suggest contacting the Cheshires RHQ for further info.
    Regt Home Page
  6. Firefly44

    Firefly44 Researching the F&FY

    The camp was liberated by two Comets from A Sqn of the 2nd Fife and Forfar Yeomanry. The tanks were led by Lt Tom Heald who gave this account of the day:

    ‘It was May 2nd 1945 and the 2 F&F Yeo. had crossed the Elbe the day before and advanced about 20 miles. For once the petrol lorries had failed to get through the night before and 2 of my 3 tanks were the only ones in the Squadron who would admit to having sufficient fuel for an operation.

    It was reported that there was a POW Camp at Winsen about 6 miles away and I was ordered to free it. We got to the village, which was very small, where there was no sign of a camp or of life. However by dint of getting out of the tanks and knocking on a door (very gentlemanly), I found the camp was down a narrow country lane. As the lane had high hedges we preceded rather gingerly until we came to a large sign “Good Pull-In For Tanks 200 Yards Ahead” Thus we came to the camp.

    That was only the start of our problems. The Comets had been so quiet that no one had heard our approach. The guards must have opened the gates very quickly as we did not have to knock them down. Within a matter of seconds there were about 400 POW’s on the two tanks. It was literally impossible to move for 5 minutes. Needless to say although we had been ordered to return immediately to the Squadron to advance on Lubeck. That was quite impossible.

    My Army training had not taught me how to take over a POW camp. First I had to arrange for the handover of the Camp by the German Commander to the senior British Officer. They appeared to be on the best of terms but etiquette forbade the German Officer surrendering to his British counterpart, who was his prisoner. I accepted the German Officers surrender and handed his pistol to the British Officer and told him he was in charge. By the time I got back to my tank I found my crew was being feasted on the contents of Red Cross parcels and the other tank had disappeared. I was told it had some trouble with its tracks, which the crew were dealing with. After about a quarter of an hour it turned up.

    Only about 5 years ago I learnt from Gordon Fidler its story. Gordon, its driver had been beguiled by some POW’s to sample this fare. While he was away the very inexperienced tank commander (he had been made up to Corporal that week) and equally inexperienced co-driver were persuaded to drive down the Camp perimeter fencing. Instead of driving across the wire they had drove along the wire, which became inextricably entwined with the track and sprockets so that they had to take the track off to free the vehicle.

    In fact they did very well to finish the job in about 20 minutes and keep me quite ignorant of what had happened for 45 years. We were in time to rejoin the Squadron, refuel and move off to capture Lubeck that afternoon.’

    Years later Tom received the following letter from one of the former POWs:

    ‘Your letter in The Times about the Comet tanks struck a chord. Could it have been you, or your Troop, who liberated some POWs near Lubeck on 2nd May 1945? I was one of those fortunate ones and the events of that day remain very clear.

    Obviously we knew freedom was near but the sight of tanks near the farm yard where we had found shelter was absolute proof that we were free. There had been little gunfire or noise of warfare for the few days prior to our release and the tanks arrived relatively silently except for their engine noise. I was one of many who clambered all over them and asked what they were called; Comets they said and were obviously proud of them. They certainly looked like a tank should look like. The crews were obviously delighted to free us and stayed far too long because I remember instructions been repeated a few times on the tank radio ordering them to press on to Lubeck.

    The bulk of us had set out from Stalag Luft 3 near Breslau in January 1945 just keeping ahead of the Russian advance and had arrived near Lubeck via Berlin, Bremen and Hamburg - most of the time walking. By the Spring of 1945 the Germans were only too anxious to keep away from the Russians and, in many ways, the prisoners controlled their captors. We had no intention of walking any further towards the East and had been "resting" at the farm for about a week. We had established an early warning organisation to scout for signs of rescue but your tanks arrived almost without warning and I bless you for that.

    The Comet tank and the 11th Armoured Division coupled with freedom in May 1945 will always be with me and I join with you in hoping that the Comet will not be forgotten. About 40 years ago, on a visit to the Army Tank Museum with my youngest son I searched in vain for a sight of a Comet. Has that been remedied? The RAF have some gaps in their historical hardware and I believe there are no examples of either the Typhoon or Tempest (of WW2 vintage) in existence. I trust next time I visit the Army Tank Museum there will be a Comet in its rightful place.

    With best wishes and many, many thanks for the part you must have played in my freedom and safety all those years ago.’
  7. brian turner-smith

    brian turner-smith Junior Member

    I met Tom at a south of the border reunion in Bedford, the chap who's tank tracks were tangled was I believe, my father Brian Turner-Smith. I was trying to trace a little of his story when I chanced upon the reunion, it was wonderful. if anyone does have any memeories or tales about my father I would br delighted to hear them.
  8. Mikkel Plannthin

    Mikkel Plannthin Junior Member

    Researching a Danish-Canadian pilot who were POW at Stalag Luft III, and who were liberated at Wulmenau/Trenthorst, this thread includes information I have been looking for for months.

    "My" pilot wrote shortly afterwards that he had his picture taken by the tank crew. Hence, I have been wondering if any photos of the liberation exists.

    Furthermore - Firefly44 - I would be very interested in knowing the source of your quotes. Is this from published sources?

    Thanks in advance.


    Mikkel Plannthin
    Danish WW2 Pilots | Remembering the Danish Pilots of WW2
  9. Firefly44

    Firefly44 Researching the F&FY


    The first quote is from a letter Tom Heald wrote to The Fife & Forfar Yeomanry South of the Border Group's newsletter 'The Sporran' which I used to edit for a while. The second quote is from a transcript of A Squardon 2FFYs War Diary 1944-45 produced by the Tank Museum. Tom supplied an original copy of the Sqn war diary to the Tank Museum and he included the letter he received from the former POW with it as an appendix.

    Hope this helps
  10. Mikkel Plannthin

    Mikkel Plannthin Junior Member

    Thank you for this information.



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